Clement Udensi is one of a select group of students who attend the highly acclaimed Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), based in Accra. Together with the MEST Incubator, they provide training, seed investment and mentorship for the next generation of African software entrepreneurs. Durtti wants to hear Clement’s thoughts and potential solutions for the commercially effective implementation of AI on the African continent, and beyond.
What are the key goals of your training program at MEST, Clement?
I’m from Nigeria, and I and 52 other Africans from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South-Africa are currently undergoing the MEST training program, fully funded by Meltwater to raise a new generation of African tech entrepreneurs.
My mission at MEST is to become a world-class technopreneur focused on creating software products that address real life challenges, creating innovation and social impact.
With the benefit of your additional qualification in industrial chemistry, do you believe AI and advances in big data technology will affect the industrial chemicals sector in the next 3-5 years?
AI innovation in Africa is just now starting to have an impact on many different industries, but if things do continue to progress as fast as they are, I do see that happening, and the industrial chemicals sector will be no exception.
One way in which that may happen would be to help students of chemistry properly simulate lab experiments.
Considering that the chemistry field is heavily driven by experiments, some of these experiments are difficult and expensive to run, which seriously hampers growth in a less equipped environment.
This isn’t on par with global standards.
AI implementation could significantly reduce the need for traditional laboratory operations, which in turn will reduce the need to set up and equip often costly labs.
Tell us about your startup and the team you are in.
I’m a member of a 5 man team which has set out to tackle the huge issue in Africa of supply chain visibility.
Although this is a global problem, the issue seems to be very severe in Africa.
From our studies and research that I and my team have made, we have discovered that an improved supply chain visibility will significantly open inter-African trade, which will in turn improve the African economy as a whole.
We believe this a fantastic opportunity that could empower a lot of Africans.
So, based upon you and your team’s knowledge and research, what needs to happen in your opinion, in order for AI to have a noticeably positive effect in relation to improved supply chain visibility and other key commercial infrastructure problems that currently exist on the African continent?
AI is clearly a modern approach the world is now using to tackle business problems efficiently – and this applies equally to the African continent.
For AI implementation to be at it’s most effective, in my opinion, a clear flow of data or information must exist, which is fed to an AI to make sense of.
However, currently most of the relevant information needed to power an AI solution successfully currently sits in independent silos for most industries.
If AI is going to work, there has to be a ‘free flow’ of information.
We’re all human! So how do you deal with challenges in life if things aren’t going your way?
I’m a man of faith and during times of challenges, I tend to rely more on faith mostly.
My formula is prayer, meditation – and increased work rate!
What’s the best piece of business advice you have ever been given?
Let business plans and decision be based upon ‘long-term’ sustainability.
We all know now that autonomous road vehicles are gradually becoming a reality, but do you think pilotless automated aircraft will ever “take off!” – and would you be happy to fly in one?
Pilotless planes are not as far off as many may think, with the pace of recent advancement in transport technology, especially in autonomous road vehicles.
I wouldn’t mind flying in one of these – as long as it has a well-trained pilot as a backup!
After all, a history of generations of accident-free automated flights will have to evolve, I believe, in order for humans to completely trust automated (passenger carrying) flying machines.
Finally, Clement, what 3 pieces of advice would you give to a class of teenage school students today, to help them better prepare for the rapidly changing nature of tomorrow’s workplace, regardless of their location around the world?
Firstly, doing what you love to do to the best of your ability will always earn success.
Secondly, the combination of both tech and creativity makes learning fun, which creates a great environment for innovation.
Finally, and most importantly, let all decisions and plans be made based upon a sustaining future reward.
More at meltwater.org
Clement is a member of The Artificial Intelligence Group on LinkedIn.